25 August 2006 | DeanNYC
The Addams Family, In Context
The Addams Family comes from a very cultured place: the nimble mind and pen of Charles Addams, a cartoonist whose work appeared in the entertainingly droll "The New Yorker" magazine. Charles' "family" were a macabre and quaint set of well to do people who just happened to take pleasure in pain and who dressed in dark colors. This means that the cartoonist was the unofficial Grandaddy of Goth! When the concept of converting these ink doodles into a live action television program took place, the timing coincided with another "odd" family who also arrived on our Television doorsteps that same season: "The Munsters." In a way, that was a disservice to both programs, since the common traits they shared made them a constant comparison. Personally, though I don't believe they are in the same league.
Where "The Munsters" went for the slapstick schtick nearly every time, "The Addams Family" used more wordplay and more clever, witty attempts to bring a laugh. But even that wasn't the main difference between the programs.
The secret ingredient that The Addams Family had over their Mockingbird Lane counterparts was a single word: PASSION. Yes this was a family with a creepy home, kooky hobbies, mysterious eating habits, and spooky pets. But at the root, at the heart, at the altogether ooky core of the story was this one, great, huge love between Gomez and Morticia and the love they shared for all of the people in their lives. John Astin and Carolyn Jones were incredible, and for my money, are still the sexiest couple in TV history.
Though it was often played for laughs, as when the matriarch uttered a word in French and Gomez couldn't resist kissing up her arm, it was very palpable, in the pet names they called each other, in the way they tangoed or in how the pair chatted in each other's company. This was a family that cared about all of its members deeply, and that read as clear as a full moon over a cemetery.
The laughs of the program were just the spider on the web, and the laughs were plentiful and great. A stellar cast, very good special effects and smart story lines, plus a great set of music cues from Vic Mizzy that added just the right finish to a fantastic program. Next time you have a chance to view an episode, keep that love story in mind as the show's centerpiece and see if you don't appreciate it in a new and deeper way.